No Offense: But it is Alarming That So Many Children Are Not Learning to Read

by Pam Wright

It appears I’ve offended some teachers by the post and comments on “Fifth grader is reading at 2.7 grade level. Should he be tested for Special Ed?”

Before clarifying the purpose of that article, I have a question for you: If your child was in 5th grade and reading on the 2.7 grade level, wouldn’t you be alarmed? Wouldn’t you want a research based reading program that has a proven record of success before your child falls even further behind?

To clarify, the article is a critique of teacher education programs, not an attack on teachers. When writing articles, we use research by respected organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers and The National Council on Teacher Quality. We recommend publications from these organizations to those who are interested in reading instruction and teacher preparation. Here are some excellent publications and reports on teacher preparation and reading:

Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science, What Expert Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do by Louisa Moats, published by the American Federation of Teachers.

Teacher Education: Coming up Empty - Describes a study in which leading teacher educators admit that there’s little evidence to prove the effectiveness of teacher ed programs.

What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren’t Learning

The National Council on Teacher Quality examined what aspiring teachers learn about reading instruction in college. NCTQ analyzed a representative sample of reading courses to assess the degree to which students are taught the five essential components of effective reading instruction ( phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Among their findings:

Given the strength of the scientific research in reading instruction, there is genuine cause for concern … we will not be surprised to find that it took several decades for the science of reading to be absorbed into thinking and practice … [that means ] yet another generation of children have been deprived of the benefits of the science.

State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2007 - Progress on Teacher Quality: How the States are Faring

This Yearbook describes teacher quality and preparation by state. Area 6 is Preparation of Special Education Teachers by state. Primary findings are here.
Scroll down to #7 for findings about the preparation of special education teachers.